I think that I share many people’s sentiment that the past few weeks, since the inauguration, have been a bit difficult. I’ve been challenging myself most days to try and stay off of social media and avoid the news headlines, but ultimately failing to do so on most days and falling into the rabbit hole that is the depressing situation we face today. Since I’m an immigrant to this country, a scientist, and a gender fluid individual, it’s hard to let these things pass by without being affected by them. So, with all that heaviness it was with great pleasure and relief to have the opportunity to go to this year’s Mystic Krewe of Pegasus of Memphis Mardi Gras Ball, and blow off some steam, all while helping raise money for charity.
The theme for this year’s formal ball and fundraiser was Las Vegas, which meant plenty of glitz, glamour, and high rollers. This also gave my wife a chance to dress up for a formal event, which we hardly ever have a chance to participate in, and something she’s been wanting to do since most days she’s in drab nursing scrubs. For this year’s event, we decided to rent some fancy designer dresses from Rent the Runway, which allowed us to rent high priced dress for a more than reasonable price. Mine was a lovely Elie Tahari dress, while my wife was stunning in Bradley Mischka.
I was excited for this event, not only for the chance to dress all fancy like, but for the opportunity to see some familiar faces. It’s been steady work over the years to build connections with a great community. The first time we went out to an LGBT events like this, we hardly knew anyone and wouldn’t stick around for too long, or do much after the event. This year it’s been nice to see good friends and catch up, while meeting new people, which I took full advantage of. A couple of those new friends, David (who has a wonderful blog), works with my wife and has a twin, who is a fierce local drag queen named Goldie Dee. We all had a great time watching the different acts on stage, everything from singers, dancers, drag queens, and aerial performers.
I sometimes get asked “Are you different as Katie, compared to your male side”? The answer I give is mostly no. I feel very comfortable in either expression, and I don’t feel like I’m presenting as a different person, but there are a few subtle differences. For example, throughout the night, we’d take a break and sit at our assigned table, but that wouldn’t last long as I would get the urge to walk around and mingle with the crowd and chat with new friends. As a guy, I would tend to have less of an urge to do that, and blend in more. Katie is a bit more outgoing in that respect. As Katie, I also tend to say “Yes” to more things. At the end of the event a small group were going to Mollie’s, (A beautiful old Victorian house turned into a lounge with amazing cocktails and music), and as a guy, I would have tended to make up some excuse for why I couldn’t make it out, just because I’m a bit more reserved and shy. But as Katie, I was like “Absolutely! We’ll see y’all there!” That attitude lead to some great conversations with great people.
In the end, I felt more comfortable than ever as I keep challenging myself and pushing beyond those boundaries I’ve put in my way. All this is my effort to make my mark in the world and claim my space to express myself.
Much love to all,
Thanksgiving, one of my favorite times of the year where we get to enjoy good food, drinks, the company of those close to us, and be reminded of the important things in life to enjoy and be thankful for. In the current climate we’re in today, and especially after the election results, there have been plenty of things online and in the news to be bummed out about, which makes this time of year all the more important to recalibrate and enjoy the things we have control over.
In the past month I can say that I’ve been thankful for having the opportunity to make positive progress in my life and taking those small steps to achieve my goals, while at the same time sharing what I can to help others. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure to meet with a wife who works downtown, minutes away from me, and whose husband had recently come out as a crossdresser. Over a couple of beers at a pub we chatted about this new aspect in their relationship as the husband begins to discover what this means for him as she blossoms going forward. I know that at the end of our chat, the wife felt much more relieved having been able to speak out load to someone else, someone in the community with a few years of experience. Having had the chance to meet with her gave me the opportunity to look back and see how far I’ve come along in the last six years.Also, in the past month I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to go out a couple of times. This is really starting to become a regular thing, which I’m actually excited for. At the end of October, I was able to have some drinks and dinner with a great friend, Shari, and one of her good longtime friends. When Shari suggested we meet up at Babalu, which is a great but very busy restaurant, I immediately said yes. I was ready to venture out alone (my wife had to work) and meet Shari and her friend at a busy restaurant. Sometimes it helps not to think things over and just say “yes”, especially if you’re like me and have a tendency to overthink/overanalyze/over-plan everything. Needlessly to say, everything went of great and we all had a great time out with no issues. All the better to raise that confidence.
Finally, in a much needed effort to increase positive vibes, we planned another outing to go out and watch Drag Me Under the Mistletoe, a drag theater performance filled with a cast of local performers. One twist to this outing was that at the last minute one of my good friends and coworker had invited another coworker (let’s call her J), who didn’t know about Katie, out for the evening and I was all in on this opportunity to get to know J better and open up. Since it was last minute, I didn’t have a chance to give J a head’s up on who she’d see coming out for the night, so I was intrigued on how she would react to me showing up at the pub to have a drink before the show. As with all my other experiences, things went great! We chatted a bit, we met up with friends who we hadn’t seen in a while, we drank, ate, and enjoyed each other’s company.
After dinner and drinks we left for the show, which since it was a Christmas themed, put us all in the Christmas spirit by the end of the night. The show was funny, raunchy, and entertaining. Everyone in our group had a good time, which we all felt was much needed after the rough start to the month. After the show I was able to meet up with a couple of the performers and thank them for a fun show in which we all were able to be distracted for a short time from the all the negativity out in the world.
I am thankful for many things, so today we eat, drink, and celebrate.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Much love,
To venture out once more that is. Now that Fall has finally arrived in the south, I can finally continue working on the progress I had made at the end of Spring earlier this year. This past Winter and Spring was full of several fun events to get me out of the house and enjoy the company of great friends and continue working on my goals. But once Summer hit, it was time to pack away the wigs, heels, and take it easy for a while. Needlessly to say this Summer was longer and hotter than usual and I’m happy to see the changing of the seasons upon us, and as with many women out there, this season is my favorite. Yay Fall!
Since last Spring I had made a good friend, Shari, on Facebook who happened to live 30 min away from me and we simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet face-to-face and get to know each other. It definitely feels like the trans/genderfluid community in Memphis is smaller than what it looks like in other larger cities, but it’s a community I hope continues to grows over time. Last weekend my wife and I had a chance to meet up with Shari over drinks and dinner in the hip Cooper-Young neighborhood of Memphis and spend some quality time together. We started off by enjoying a couple of rounds of beer at my favorite pub, which I frequent quite often but this was the first time as Katie, and then we enjoyed some great food at a restaurant next door.
This particular meet up was a bit different than my other times out because it was a casual evening with my wife and a friend, and not a big event at night, like I’ve posted in the past. This meant I needed to tone down my makeup look and try to wear something a bit more casual and appropriate for the occasion. I tend to do a lot of bold makeup looks, which are more appropriate for a special event or a night out, not so much for something laid back during the afternoon. So I kept the false lashes at home, toned down the eye makeup, and went with a subtler lip shade. As for the outfit, I had found this Fall look on Pinterest and was obsessed with it, so I knew I had to wear this out before it got too cold to have bare legs, and with flats it was appropriate for the occasion.
It was a great evening with Shari, catching up, sharing stories, thoughts, and making some fun plans. Towards the end of the night we made plans for our next outing and the possibility of another local trans woman venturing out with us. The idea is to try and meet up once a month, or whenever our schedules work out. Being more visible out in public and doing normal everyday things is the kind of activism I can get behind with; one encounter, one interaction, one conversation, and one drink at a time, and all in the company of great family and friends.
Much love to all,
There’s nothing quite like a nice Sunday with friends and a pot of gumbo. Ok, make that a couple of hundred friends and over a dozen pots of delicious gumbo, some tasty King cakes, and a fun Mardi Gras atmosphere!
Last year my wife and I went for the first time to the Tennessee Equality Project’s annual gumbo cooking competition. This fundraiser helps out TEP in their efforts in supporting LGBT issues in the state. Anyone can help the cause by buying a ticket, sampling dozens of yummy gumbos, and voting for their favorite. When I went last year I was kicking myself, thinking that this would have been a great opportunity to take Katie out on the town and show support for our good friend, Nathan, who was competing in the event. I made a commitment that this year would be different, and my goodness was it ever!
As this event was a contest/Mardi Gras party, I of course had to break out my good ol’ glue gun and put together some fun and colorful accessories for the event. I knew I wanted to dress up my new hair, so I threw together a nice headpiece, which ended up getting a lot of positive attention. Oh, since my last post I took advantage of some great online deals and got myself a wonderful new wig called Heidi by Jon Renau, and I absolutely love her! 🙂
This year, my wife and I were more than happy to help Nathan out in setting up for the event, transporting some chairs, tables, gumbos, rice, drinks, and many, many King cakes! I made sure to plan accordingly in advance, so I had some nice comfortable flats to help haul everything from the car, and some nice booties for when the paying public started to arrive.
As a general trend, especially with my trip up to the Twin Cities last November, I was much less stressed out or anxious than ever before. The more and more one does this, the easier and less stressful it becomes. I was happy to meet some of the others enlisted by Nathan to help out, and also happy and relaxed to walk around the event floor, meeting so many new people. My good friend Gabby, who knows a ton of people around town introduced me to anyone she knew, and I was more than happy to strike up a conversation.
One of the big things I realize now after a couple of days thinking about the evening was how I kept wanting to walk around the room and interact with people. Nathan’s team, called “Rouxlin’ On The River” had a table set up with chairs, and I could have sat there most of the night, near the table with people I knew, but I instead wanted to keep circling the room to see what would happen. I was stopped a few times by random people for photos, many gave me warm compliments, and others a wonderful smile. In other words, I didn’t think I’d want to put myself out there like that, and as an introvert I usually wouldn’t do that, but damn that was fun! Human interaction…who knew it could be so much fun! LOL 🙂
By the end of the night, I had made some great new friends, met a bunch of new people, and we were all happy and proud for Nathan for receiving third place for his turducken gumbo, which was to die for! What an amazing cook! Congratulations to him for a job well done!!
Much love to all,
As with so many of my previous outings and big events, I like to look at those experiences and try to see how my perspectives have changed and what I’ve learned about myself. With my recent trip to the Twin Cities to visit my friend Hannah and the MN-T Girls group, my views have definitely changed and I certainty have learned quite a lot about myself from such a huge opportunity.
One of the big things I noticed looking back (especially compared to the first time I ever went out in public) was how relaxed and excited I was. In previous occasions, I used to work myself up so much, mentally and physically, about heading out in public, worrying about the general public and what they thought. But by the time I was due to meet Hannah at a nice restaurant in downtown Minneapolis on a Friday night, I wasn’t nervous at all. I was more excited than anything else! The same goes for the day I met up with all the other girls for drinks and dinner. Looking back, this was a big step forward because I hated how anxious I would get sometimes, and now I feel like I can do whatever I want. I don’t care much that I may be 6’6” in heels, and don’t have a voice to match my appearance. This trip really made me focus on the important things, which is to enjoy the company one has around them, and I definitely did!
The positive experiences continued the next day when Hannah, my wife, and I got some makeovers done at an Ulta store by a wonderful makeup artist. But before we meet up at Ulta, I had to do some light makeup, which if you know me at all is a difficult thing for me to do. I love doing big bold eyes and generally makeup on the heavier side of things, but since I was getting makeup done I didn’t want to do my full treatment and I didn’t want to go without any makeup either. That being said, I was happy to learn that I could do a lighter look, something more appropriate for a daytime look. While Hannah was getting her makeup done at Ulta, I wondered around the store with a smile on my face. I was happy to be out in the world, doing everyday things, being the individual I wanted to be on that day, with great company in tow. What more could one ask for!
The absolutely biggest thing I learned or realized about myself came to me after we made it back home to Memphis. Going forward, getting all dressed up and having a day in at the house won’t mean as much as it once did. What I mean is now that I’ve pushed my comfort zone to new limits, what I used to do, just won’t do any more. There are new frontiers to explore as Katie and I hope to keep pushing myself with every opportunity that comes along.
One has to be confident and fill ones space to show the world we belong and we don’t have anything to be afraid about. It was great to have this feeling reaffirmed and pushed to new heights.
I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. Much love to all,
Most years on my birthday I tend not to bring attention to myself. I don’t announce it on Facebook, or let everyone at work know “It’s my birthday”. This year has been a huge difference from all those previous years. One of my best friends in the world, Hannah McKnight, and I have for a long time causally talked about getting together someday to meet in person. Last spring we started to seriously talk about the possibility and since we both share a November birthday, it was only natural that we got together and celebrate. And girl did we ever!
My wife joyed the trip, as we made a nice little vacation out of our visit to Minneapolis. As the time passed and we got closer to November I started to make detailed plans for our trip. I knew I was going to be getting dressed up twice, once for a dinner with Hannah, and then another outing with the MN T-Girls group to a brewery and dinner. I spent a couple of weeks thinking about the outfits that would be appropriate for each event along with the right shoes and purse to go with it. In all, my wife and I had one checked bag and one carry on bag each, giving us some options in case plans changed. More on planning and packing in a future post…
We arrived in town on a Wednesday and headed straight to Surly Brewing Company, which is a very popular craft brewery in town. We thoroughly enjoyed the delicious beer and food along with a fun tour. That night we enjoyed a stand up show by Jim Jefferies, who is one of our favorite comedians, and we were not disappointed as he served up a two hour-long stand up comedy routine.
Thursday was spent going to the Walker Art Center to take in some awesome exhibits they had on display and of course check out the Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture out in the sculpture garden. We also checked out some shopping at the Mall Of America and some shops along Grand Avenue near St. Paul.
The real big events started on Friday when we were due to meet up with Hannah for dinner at Ling and Louie’s downtown Minneapolis, just a few blocks away from our hotel. I started to get ready in the afternoon since I had lots to do, removing hair, doing my makeup, and finally deciding on what I was going to wear. On our walk to the restaurant I was so excited to finally meet my friend who I had only ever communicated with through email. So exciting!! 🙂
Hannah was dressed in a beautiful print dress, while I decided to go with a pair of jeans, and button up top and jacket. The jacket came in handy because for us southerners from Tennessee, it was cold! For Hannah, it was warm enough not to even wear a jacket! LOL. Meeting up with Hannah was amazing. We talked, we ate, we drank, and had an amazing time finally meeting face-to-face.
As the night ended, we finalized the plans for the following day. On Saturday we met up at an Ulta store near St. Paul and we all had something done. Hannah and I had makeover (thank you Tawni!!) while my wife had her hair styled (she looked amazing!!). The hair and makeup people at Ulta did an amazing job on us and were so very helpful. I even got some new products, because a girl can never have too much makeup! 🙂 Hannah was wearing a red hot dress, while I felt amazing in my black crochet dress and jean jackets.
Next up was Sidhe Brewing Company, which is an LGBT-friendly place to enjoy a pint of beer or two. I especially enjoyed the nut brown ale. We also got to meet members of the MN T-Girls group who were celebrating their two-year anniversary as a group. It was great to meet the girls and great to see the brewery so busy with people looking to enjoy some good times.
The night ended with an amazing dinner at PUBLIC, a wonderful restaurant in downtown St. Paul. We sat at the chef’s table as we enjoyed each other’s company over some tasty wine, delicious food, and a yummy cheesecake. I enjoyed getting a chance to talk to the other girls, and make some rough plans for a future get together. Before calling it a night, I thanked everyone for such great company and a warm welcome to the twin cities. I also want to thank Hannah for planning the outings and being such a great host and an amazing friend. This trip really allowed our friendship to bloom. It was a great experience and something completely different to celebrate a birthday.
In closing, this trip really pushed me outside my normal routines, and I think I really needed it. There were so many new and first time experiences packed into just a couple of days, which I hope to elaborate more in the future. First time traveling with all my femme clothes, first time agonizing about what to pack for a trip, first time getting a makeover, first time using a multi-stall woman’s restroom (most other places I had been to were single occupancy, lower anxiety…), first time dressing up on back-to-back days, first time wandering around downtown St. Paul in 4 inch heels after dinner trying to find where you parked your rental car… LOL. I’m so happy to have made the trip, I am happy to have made some new friends, happy to have experienced and learn so many new things, and happy to have finally met my BFF, Hannah! YAY! 🙂
I hope you all get a chance to experience something new and break the routines from time to time. Much love to all,
There’s nothing quite like the fall season, with everyone else in the country drinking their pumpkin spiced coffees, pumpkin beers, and other pumpkin flavored things that just aren’t for me. So what do I look forward to in the fall, well… the fashion, of course! 🙂
The fall season is the time when I get to dress up more, continue to build up the confidence I’ve been working on before the summer heat, and take advantage of the fall fashion deals! The fall season started with a fun outing to the Mid-South Pride event downtown Memphis, followed by an awesome performance by Jinkx Monsoon and capped by a couple of drinks at an Irish pub in the presence of a couple of co-workers. By the end of the night, I had spent about 12 hours in makeup, wondered around downtown (where there was also a performance of Disney’s Frozen on Ice, so lots of kids and parents), and built up my confidence as I held my head high while talking to new friends over a drink or two.
Today I got to play around with different outfit combinations as I reinforce the notion that women’s fashion is SO much more fun and interesting than guy clothes. It’s taken some time to find the styles that work best for my body and style, but now that I have a good idea of what I like, it’s so fun to play with outfits, especially when you can get a great deal on them.
I hope you all are having a great fall season out there and get to enjoy what’s just around the corner.
So far, this summer has been full of hard work and satisfying rewards; from doing many little projects around our home, celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary, and in particular interest to this post, growing the family and friends who know the full me. Having the opportunity to open up to a good friend from work and my brother-in-law have been some big highlights of the summer thus far.
Apart from all the hard work, I’ve taken some time to enjoy watching some soccer on TV, especially the woman’s world cup. A good friend from work has also been following the world cup very closely and after work one day we decided to meet up, along with my wife, at a local bar to support the USA. I had thought about opening up to my work friend, G, because I knew she was a very open minded friend, being very proactive in many progressive groups in the city, and since we had many overlapping friends who knew about Katie, I though this would be a good opportunity to talk to her about my gender views.
At half time, my wife and I were discussing, along with G, about the pride parade coming up in the fall. I’m sure it’s held in the fall because it’s just too damn hot in the middle of summer to hold a parade. I told G that I wanted to make plans to go this year because it holds a special place for me, having gone out for the first time as Katie in public almost three years ago at pride. As with all my other experiences, it was overwhelmingly positive. We talked about gender roles in society, trans issues, and we also had a fun discussion about drag and RuPaul’s Drag Race, as she’s a HUGE fan. My wife and I talked about the different seasons, who were our favorite contestants, and about how we’d love to go see Bianca Del Rio perform!
My next big step was over the 4th of July weekend. I had an extra day off, and since the weather had turned much cooler than normal, I took the opportunity to dress up for the 4th, especially having been over a month since my last time all dolled up. I was enjoying the cooler weather, catching up on social media, when my brother-in-law, R, texted me in the evening and wanted to know if I’d like to play some games online. Later that night, while still in full makeup, I logged on and we played some games while chatting over Skype. During this time I made sure that my webcam was off so he couldn’t see me. At this point it’s important to say that my wife and I had talked about telling her brother about Katie, especially since my wife and R are quite close compared to the rest of the family.
During our gaming session, he told me that his son and wife were at a family’s place and that he was by himself. I thought this would be a great time to talk to him one on one about Katie, so before we logged off at the end of the night, I told him I had something important to talk about. At this point my heart was pumping fast as I told him that I was going to turn on the webcam and that he would see something different and that I would explain everything.
Just as before, the experience and reaction was incredibly positive. I began to talk about my past and how I got to this point. Why I decided to open up to him and where the future might take me. R has made choices in his life that he wanted to make for himself, despite what others might have wanted for him. I respect his independence and I think he understood where I was coming from when I told him that I was so much happier now than before, having chosen to be open and honest with myself and others about who I really am. It’s a great feeling when you can open up to someone and no longer have any secrets and nothing to hide. At least now he knows why I love playing strong female characters whenever it’s an option in games. 🙂
After we logged off my heart was still pounding, and as I started to come down from the adrenaline rush, I felt nothing but joy. After taking a shower and heading to bed, I saw that R had texted me. It was an amazing text, because it was only about games and which one we should get next to play online. We went back to normal very quickly, as revealing Katie was no huge thing, in a good way if that makes sense. It wasn’t a roadblock to our relationship.
The next day, R and I texted that we would only talk to his son about Katie when the time was right (he just turned 5). I told R that I was 100% okay with that decision since he’s the father and it’s not my place to say otherwise. I’m sure it’ll be an interesting discussion to have in the future, but one that I know will go well, since R and his wife are raising their son to be open minded and teaching that things aren’t as simple as black or white, that things don’t always fall into two categories, but that life can be a wonderful and beautiful rainbow of possibilities.
I hope you all are having a great summer and staying cool!
Much love to all,
I am participating in Trans*forming the Dialogue, Simmons College’s Online MSW Program’s campaign to promote an educational conversation about the transgender community. By participating in this campaign, I will be offering my perspective on what TO ask and what NOT to ask trans*people.
I was recently contacted by a representative of Simmons College, a private women’s college in Massachusetts, to participate in their campaign focused on the trans community. I was more than happy to provide some of my personal insights as someone who is in the middle of the gender spectrum and part of the broader trans community.
When thinking of questions one should not ask a trans person, I became a bit conflicted and had to split this topic into two. This is my own personal opinion, but when a close friend wants to ask a question, and their intention is coming from a genuine place, I don’t mind fielding any question. I’ve had some deep and personal conversations with a handful of very close friends, which were rewarding in the end.
Where things get tricky is when you are dealing with strangers, co-workers, people who you are friendly with but aren’t super close to, and some family members. In these situations I think there are some questions, which can lead to hurt feelings. And sometimes it’s not even a real question, but a snide comment disguised in a question. For example:
You’re not going into that bathroom, right?
Maybe you’re out, having a drink with some friends, and some stranger or casual acquaintance makes a comment basically telling you which bathroom they think you should be using. This is a very touchy issue in most places.
You must like guys, right?
Making assumptions on ones sexual orientation just based on what they are wearing is just no good.
What have you got down there?
Oh, come on! I would be shocked if I ever heard this or anything close to this. It just reminds me of the interview that Katie Couric did with Carmen Carrera, where she was asked several times about whether or not she had SRS, and no matter how many times Carmen tried to pass on the question, Katie kept asking. Since then, many of those working in news/media have learned that there are boundaries around personal issues/questions that should be taken with care.
Now for the questions one should ask.
What kind of stereotypes or misconceptions would you want to help break?
I think a question along these lines can help spark a conversation on the types of stereotypes and misconceptions that are often applied to those in the trans community. Having these conversations can help open up people to the idea that there is a large diversity within the broader trans community.
What kind of positive experiences have you had?
There are a lot of positive experiences I’ve had after accepting and being more honest about myself. Sharing these stories can have a positive impact on others, especially when talking to family and friends. Just about everyone can relate to the idea of self acceptance, and talking about these positive and happy experiences can help people of different backgrounds relate to one another. We all seek happiness and fulfillment, what’s wrong with that?
How may I address you?
I’ve had some people ask me this question and I’m always happy to explain how I see myself and how someone can address me. There is no shame in trying to clear up any confusion.
Much love to all,
As a new homeowner, the last six months of living here has really brought out a new side to me, working on some projects around the house. I had the thought of writing this post after reading a post from my friend Ashley, where she describes how she felt when she had to do some handy work around her house. She describes a feeling of being a strong independent woman, not needing a man around to do some manly work around the house.
Her experience got me thinking “how do I feel when I do project around the house”? Since moving to the house, I tackled some woodworking projects, making a workbench, a TV stand, a turntable stand, and a cornhole set. While doing these projects, I felt like I was exercising my masculine side, working with my hands to create something out of basic starting materials. Growing up, I spent a lot of time at my grandfather’s house, where he had a full workshop, where he would build machines for his pasta factory, and allowed my brother and I to use some of his tools to make some toys. I know that that had a big impact on me growing up.
Now that I have my own set of tools, I can use my creativity to build the things I want and to work on projects to make our house complete. So when I’m working on these projects, I feel like my male self, channeling my grandfather, who was a big part of my upbringing and influenced my masculine identity. I find it so interesting how people have different perspectives when doing simple tasks, whether it be hanging a coat hook or building some furniture.